The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett today announced the reopening of the Organic Farming Scheme for new applications from farmers. The reopening, is expected to result in an increase of up to 30% in the number of farmers farming organically in Ireland this year.
Announcing the opening of the Scheme, Minister Hackett said, “This is a really good scheme which provides farmers with the support they need to go organic so I would really encourage those considering conversion to engage with it. I promised to help the growing number of farmers in Ireland who want to farm organically – this scheme does that. Going organic can lead to higher prices and more sustainable way of farming. It’s less intensive, and it embraces nature and natural processes to produce organic food, for which there is a growing demand both in Ireland and across Europe. And I’m delighted to see my Department helping farmers cater for that demand by reopening the scheme, with the extra funding and scope for so many more farmers to join.”
The Scheme will be open to applications from all sectors from today (1st March) and it will remain open until the 30th April 2021.
The Organic Farming Scheme is an agri-environment measure under the Department’s Rural Development Programme. Farmers entering the scheme could qualify for yearly payments of up to €220 per hectare during the conversion period and up to €170 per hectare when they have achieved full organic status. Higher payment rates are available for organic horticulture and tillage farmers.
Encouraging farmers to apply for the Scheme, the Minister added, “I believe that the significant level of funding provided for this new Scheme will facilitate the entry of 400-500 new farmers into the organic farming system. This should allow scope for plenty of successful applications from all types of enterprises and I would encourage farmers in all sectors to consider applying.”
The Minister continued, “The scheme and funding are closely aligned to the targets in the National Organic Farming Strategy to 2025 and will help us deliver on them. In the event of the scheme being oversubscribed, I will be prioritising those sectors for which most market demand exists, namely the dairy, horticulture and tillage sectors, but I also want to encourage young farmers to convert to organic farming so I will be making provision in the selection process to achieve this too. I have also ensured that farmers who were not successful in gaining entry to the previous scheme, but who have continued to farm organically, have their commitment acknowledged, through priority access.”
Applications for the scheme must be made online through the Department’s online system agfood.ie. The Minister concluded, “The application process itself is quite simple and straightforward. There is a wealth of information and guidance available to farmers through my Deportment, Teagasc and the organic certification bodies. Farmers of course should also speak directly with their own advisor if considering joining the scheme. I would encourage every farmer to inform themselves of the opportunities here and to give it fill consideration.”
Notes to Editors:
- A guide to the Organic Farming Scheme application process and a FAQ document is available on the Department’s website to assist potential applicants at www.gov.ie/en/service/d46aec-organic-farming-scheme/
- Teagasc have developed a series of new Organic Factsheets to give information to farmers considering organic enterprise options. In addition, a new guide “Organic Farming – A Step-by-Step Guide to Conversion” has been developed and is available on the Teagasc website www.teagasc.ie/organics
- If the Scheme is over-subscribed, successful applications will be determined by a ranking and selection process. Marks will be awarded for each sector with the aim of increasing the area under organic production, while prioritising areas deemed to be in deficit. The areas deemed to be in deficit by the Organic Strategy Group are dairy, tillage and horticulture.
- Copies of the Organic Farming Scheme terms and conditions are available on the Department’s organics page at www.gov.ie/en/service/d46aec-organic-farming-scheme/